Goody bags and party favors are widely hated by a large group of parents. Personally, I'm a fan. For younger kids (5 and under) a goody bag or favor can help move the child out of the party and into the car. For older kids, it's a nice way to remind the child host that just because it's his or her birthday, doesn't mean that other people's feelings don't matter. But, a lot of parents hate the abundance of plastic "stuff" that appears in a typical goody bag, and even more hate the spiraling costs. If you're looking for a meaningful party favor that won't break the bank, we have tips.

One of the best ways to make sure that your party favor is meaningful is to tie it into the theme or activities of the party. If you're having a balloon twister, magician, or clown he or she may even provide party favors (make sure to discuss this when booking). If you're having a princess or other costumed character, chances are high that similarly-themed party favors are available. If you're having a DJ, or a music-theme you can create a CD of your child's favorite songs (we promise, we won't turn you in). Remember "The Poky Puppy" and other Little Golden Book favorites? They cost less than $4 each and your fellow parents will thank you! If you go this route, we recommend buying two different titles so that siblings can each have a different book. For older children, paperbacks from popular series like Magic Rainbow, My Weird School and Captain Underpants are similarly priced, and may be less if ordered from Scholastic.

Consider choosing a craft to do at the party that will result in a take-away (making picture frames is a favorite). If you want to go the goody bag route, remember that simply having a bag or box to open is half the fun, it doesn't have to be stuffed full of stuff (especially if that stuff is plastic or plastic-like candy). The $1 area at places like Target and Michaels is often a great source of both reusable theme-related buckets or boxes, and inexpensive bulk items.

How do you feel about goody bags and party favors? Necessary evil? Unnecessary? Or good way to tie in the theme of the party? Tell us in the comments below.

For more great kids party ideas, make sure to visit our Kids Party Page!